Dear Camp Family,
Happy Thanksgiving! We’ve been thinking and praying for you all, and as I wrote my own children in a message on Thanksgiving morning, I wanted to write to you as well. This morning I’ve been reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” What a great verse for this Thanksgiving weekend AND for life. But we can’t just read this verse, we have to choose to apply it to our every moment.
But how is it possible to rejoice always? There are things that happen in life that are really tough! Let me tell you a story. Years ago, when I was a Junior Counselor, I was on a camping trip at Shining Rock Wilderness Area. At the charming hour of 4 am I was awakened by the wild barking of a golden retriever belonging to our head of wilderness. As I sat up in my sleeping bag, I had one of the biggest surprises of my life. The dog had cornered a skunk into our tent and his rear end was less than 2 feet away and pointed directly at me! And you guessed it, I got totally sprayed by that skunk at very close range! Somehow the “Rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances,” didn’t quite seem to fit as I choked and coughed and reeked of the nastiest smell ever! And did you know that when a skunk sprays, it’s not just a bad smell, it actually eats the oxygen! So as I choked and coughed, I also was gasping for breath for hours!
That is my signature, personal story every time I think of that skunk! But still, we’ve had a ton of laughs about it through the years. And I know YOU just may be having a chuckle right now! There was also no problem, “Praying continually.” I was begging God to save me! The piece that was a challenge was the, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” REALLY GOD??? I have to give thanks for THAT circumstance??? But at some point it dawned on me. The verse does not say, “Give thanks FOR all circumstances.” It says, “Give thanks IN all circumstances.” That’s very different. Giving thanks IN all circumstances is choosing to develop an attitude of gratefulness. Remembering that God is on the Throne and He is not sleeping. We NEED to get this firmly in our hearts and minds. Do you know that there is a science to gratitude? Tons of studies have been done that prove that having an attitude of gratitude has untold positive effects on our hearts, minds and souls. It lowers blood pressure, enhances sleep, helps alleviate depression and so much more. IT seems that the God who made us really does know how to keep our hearts, minds, souls and bodies in a state of well-being! But all of this takes a decision and ongoing practice. The question is not–does this work? The question is will we choose to make gratitude our lifestyle?
This Thanksgiving, take 2 minutes. Think of all you have to be grateful for. It’s a great idea to start a gratitude journal. Take a moment and write those things down. Tomorrow, do it again. Two minutes every day. It’s enough to make a new habit. You’ll be amazed at how your attitude changes, and the way you view every circumstance. This is the time of year when our attitudes can hit a slump and we’ve grown weary of doing good. Today I am challenging you and myself to rise up! Choose joy. Choose to focus on very real blessings in your life. Choose to BE a blessing to others. Pray for the grace to make this a lifestyle. Joy is infectious. I pray a double portion on each of you, and do know that I am SO very grateful for the gift of each one of you and I love you!
With love and prayers,